April 24, 2019 – David J. Roxburgh

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History
Department Chair, Harvard University

Art and Literature in Timurid Herat: Baysunghur’s Manuscripts

Baysunghur (d. 1433), son of ruler Shahrukh and grandson of Timur, has long been regarded as one of the most important princely bibliophiles of the Timurid dynasty, and yet his personal library of books has long deserved critical reevaluation. The lecture reexamines concepts of creative agency—the balance between patron and artists—, the physical and aesthetic reformation of the imperial book, and the effects of the total coordination of the elements of the book comprising binding, calligraphy, illumination, and painting. Why did near contemporaries and subsequent generations regard Baysunghur, and his books, as the benchmark of cultural achievement?